Edited by: Gary Gerani
Published by: Abrams Comicarts
Most people think that Star Wars was the first pop culture, film series phenomenon that resulted in the mass merchandising of products but that is not the case. Several years before the first Star Wars film the Planet of the Apes series had taken the world…and kids in particular by storm. The film series was not only expanded into a short-lived live action TV series and a Saturday morning cartoon, but it also made its way into retailers in the form of action figures produced by Mego and model kits by Aurora. And no film series worth its weight is complete without having its own trading card series.
Abrams books continues its succession of fantastic trading card books by collecting, in this nearly 500 page volume, the original 1969 Topps trading card series based on the original film; the 1975 series based upon the live-action TV show; and the 2001 card series based upon Tim Burton’s POTA reboot.
Pop culture historian Gary Gerani provides the introduction to the book and a look back at Topps taking the gamble of putting out a card series just a year after the 1968 film’s release. One of the problems that arose with producing the series that never before had a trading card series centered on a film featuring an actor of the caliber of Charlton Heston, one of the top box office draws of the era. Heston finally agreed to let his image be used on 9 cards which necessitated reducing the series from the standard 66 card set down to 44 cards. He also goes into detail about the development of the 1975 series based upon the disappointing TV show, and the 2001 film set.
From there it’s onto the cards, reproduced here for the first time since 1969. The book features the front and backs of the cards. The back of the card is printed on the left side and the front on the right side so you can see the back and front at the same time. The front features screen captures from the film while the back captions each scene. The last card in the 44 card series is the only behind-the-scenes image featuring various cameramen and technicians setting up a scene.
Next up is the 1975 TV series set which was done in the same style of graphics and lettering as the 1969 set. Once again the front features an image from the TV show while the back has a story caption. The two main differences are that the series was a 66 card set and the backs not only feature a caption but also a puzzle piece. In all 9 different puzzle posters can be put together with the 66 cards and the book shows all 9 posters in their completed forms so big points for that!
Finally we move onto the cards from the 2001 series based on Tim Burton’s big screen re-boot of the series. A lot had changed in the trading card industry in the 26 years since the 1975 series. Trading cards were now a collectible and made moreso by the inclusion of special “chase” cards. The Planet of the Apes series was no different. The series had a regular 90 card set but also included several levels of chase cards including stickers, movie memorabilia cards, Autograph cards, foil embossed cards, and Simian Suede cards. The entire 90 card series and the chase cards are pictured in full.
Finally, as is customary in the Abrams trading cards books, the back features a set of four promotional cards so even the book is a collectible. As a longtime fan of The Planet of the Apes who had some of these cards as a kid, the book brought back wonderful memories of looking at the cards with friends on the front porch of my house. POTA definitely need to add this book to their libraries.